What is Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is one of the more common forms of arthritis
which is the result of progressive degeneration of the protective cartilage between the bones of the larger joints in the body. This disorder develops due to the wear and tear of the cushioning cartilage between the weight-bearing joints of the hips, spine and the knees mostly.
Is Osteoarthritis a disease?
Osteoarthritis cannot be termed as a disease as it is not acquired by an external factor but is instead caused due to slow degeneration of the cartilage tissue between the bones of the larger joints mostly. This cushioning cartilage tissue suffers a breakdown naturally with the passage of time.
What is the difference between Osteoarthritis and Osteoarthrosis?
There is no difference between osteoarthritis and osteoarthrosis as these are more often used inter-changeably. Osteoarthritis is mostly used in the US while the term osteoarthrosis is used more prevalently in Europe.
What are the causes of Osteoarthritis?
Osteoarthritis is the result of the wear and tear that the soft cartilage, acting as a cushion and shock absorbed, between the joint bones suffers.
This wear and tear is mostly caused due to old age as it naturally loses its water-retaining capacity with the passage of time. However, there are certain other factors that also help in advancement of osteoarthritis. These are:
- Hereditary – Certain defects in the genetics of a person causes the restricted production of cartilage in the person. This leads to faster deterioration of the cartilage and the onset of an early osteoarthritis. People with joint congenital joint deformities are more likely to develop osteoarthritis as well as people with scoliosis.
- Obesity – Obesity increases the risk of developing osteoarthritis in the person’s weight-bearing joints such as spine, hip and knee.
- Injury – A severe injury to the joint is likely to increase the chances of osteoarthritis if the cartilage gets damaged due to the injury. A fracture near the joint also increases the risk of osteoarthritis.
- Joint overuse – Occupations that require the person to perform repetitive tasks using particular joints may also increase the chances of developing osteoarthritis.
- Other factors – Rheumatoid arthritis also results in osteoarthritis. Certain rare medical conditions such as excess growth hormone production, iron overload also increase the risk of developing osteoarthritis.
What is Osteoarthritis of the Hip?
Osteoarthritis of the hip causes the soft tissue cartilage between the bones of the hip joint (femur and acetabulum) to get worn out due to old age as it is a natural process. A person can also suffer from osteoarthritis of the hip if they suffer from a traumatic and severe injury to the hip joint, as well as a hip fracture, as this may affect the cartilage of the hip joint bones and cause deterioration.
What is Osteoarthritis of the Spine?
Osteoarthritis of the spine is also known as the ‘degenerative arthritis of the spine’ and is the result of the breakdown of the cartilage between the spinal discs in the neck and lower back. Bone spurs (abnormal bone growths) in the vertebra's can also affect the cartilage in the spinal column and cause it to degenerate causing spinal osteoarthritis.
What are the treatment methods for Osteoarthritis?
The main aim of treatment of osteoarthritis is to provide relief from its painful and debilitating symptoms as osteoarthritis is not curable.
These are the treatment methods used for Osteoarthritis:
There are various medicines that are helpful in relieving the symptoms of osteoarthritis, such as:
- Acetaminophen – These medicines are helpful in relieving pain but are not known to reduce inflammation of the joints. These are mostly useful for mild to moderate osteoarthritis cases.
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSA IDs) – These types of medicinal drugs are helpful in relieving pain as well as reducing swelling (inflammation) of the joints.
There are a number of therapies that are effective in achieving relief from osteoarthritis as well as reducing the risk of developing the condition.
These are the therapies usually suggested by the doctor:
- Physical therapy – Physical therapy concentrates on regaining movement in the affected joints as well as strengthening the muscles around the joint to reduce the pain.
- Occupational therapy – This therapy is useful in devising new ways to perform everyday tasks that are otherwise painful for a person with osteoarthritis.
- Braces, shoe inserts and other devices – These are certain bespoke devices that the doctor will recommend for use to enable you to perform, otherwise painful, everyday tasks. These devices help by immobilizing the joint or providing the much needed support.
If the non-surgical and medications treatment are unsuccessful in relieving the symptoms of osteoarthritis the doctor will suggest any of the following procedures:
- Cortisone injections – Corticosteroid injections are helpful in relieving joint pain. The doctor will numb the area around the joint with a local anesthetic and inject the corticosteroid directly into the cartilage area.
- Lubrication injections – Hyaluronic acid injections offer some pain relief by providing cushioning in the joint. This acid is similar to the substance found in the joint fluid.
- Joint replacement – This is also known as ‘arthroplasty’. The surgeon will remove the damaged joint components (or surface of the bones forming the joint) and replaces them with implants made from medical-grade plastic or metal-alloys. Joint replacement surgery is the most common procedure for replacing the hip and knee joints.